NY Jets should sign this future Hall of Famer to complete defense

This is who the Jets should sign after missing on Jadeveon Clowney

Calais Campbell
Calais Campbell / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

The NY Jets are still looking for pass-rush help after losing Bryce Huff in free agency and missing out on Jadeveon Clowney this week. Clowney seemed like a perfect addition for the Jets, and there was some optimism the team would be able to sign him.

In the end, Clowney agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract with the Carolina Panthers. The sticking point for the Jets was reportedly that second year, and it's hard to fully blame them.

Still, this means the Jets remain in search of extra depth along their defensive line with few appealing options left on the open market. There is one name that stands out among the rest, however.

Six-time Pro Bowler and likely future Hall of Famer Calais Campbell remains a free agent, and the Jets should pivot to making him their top priority after failing to sign Clowney.

Calais Campbell is a perfect free-agent target for the NY Jets

Campbell may turn 38 years old in September, but he continues to play at a high level even as he approaches his 17th year in the NFL. He started all 17 games for the Atlanta Falcons last season, putting together arguably his best season in years.

Campbell finished the 2023 season with 6.5 sacks and 42 total pressures — both of which were his highest marks since 2019. His 80.0 Pro Football Focus grade ranked 15th among all edge defenders to play at least 700 snaps.

That includes an 80.6 PFF run-defense grade which ranked sixth-best at his position, right alongside the likes of T.J. Watt, Nick Bosa, and Khalil Mack. Campbell is still playing at a very high level — a remarkable achievement for a player his age.

He's also widely seen as one of the most respected and beloved players in the entire NFL. Campbell has been awarded the Art Rooney Award, Bart Starr Award, NFLPA Alan Page Community Award, and has been named Walter Payton Man of the Year. He has every accolade imaginable when it comes to leadership and sportsmanship.

The Jets strongly pursued Campbell last offseason, even bringing him in for a visit, before he signed a one-year deal with the Falcons. It would make sense for the Jets to bring him back in for another visit this offseason.

Campbell wouldn't exactly be a one-for-one replacement for Huff. At 6-foot-8, 282 pounds, Campbell is much more in the mold of someone like John Franklin-Myers than Huff, but that shouldn't dissuade the Jets from signing him.

The Jets essentially need one more experienced body in their front seven. The remaining options still available in free agency are largely a mix of washed-up veteran edge rushers such as Yannick Ngakoue and Randy Gregory.

Campbell may be one of the oldest players in the NFL, but the former Defensive Player of the Year runner-up played over 60 percent of snaps for the Falcons last season, and he did so at a very high level.

Clowney would have been a great addition to this Jets' defense, but Campbell can occupy the same role. He should be the team's new top free-agent priority.